Residents at the Wagga campus of Charles Sturt University say they have been thrown into panic after they were mistakenly told to vacate accommodation days earlier than expected.
Following Sunday night's roll-out of government restrictions aimed at stemming the spread of COVID-19 across the country, students in the residential colleges say they were given advice to make haste in leaving the campus by Tuesday.
That advice was later dialled back to allow for students to stay until mid-semester break begins on March 28, with a campus spokesperson saying it had been a result of "misinformation".
"It was stressful at first, I wasn't sure where I'd end up, especially since we only had a couple days' notice," said nursing student Josh Rouxel, aged 19.
"We'd been told a bit more than a week before to be out of the residences by Saturday but that changed on Sunday saying we'd have to be out by Tuesday."
It was not an entirely unexpected announcement, but its timing, Mr Rouxel said, "took us by surprise".
"A couple of weeks ago we were told to keep it in mind that it would be a possibility that we'd have to go somewhere else," he said.
"We did know that we'd have to move out by the end of the week, but all of a sudden it wasn't just a possibility it was happening.
"There was a lot of panic. It was very busy [on-campus] with a lot of people moving back and forth with boxes and cars driven up to the doors with their boots open."
Adding to the uncertainty, Mr Rouxel said was the question of what could and should be taken by students on their way out of dorm rooms.
"It wasn't made clear that we could leave anything behind, so most people took everything with them," he said.
"We don't know when we'll be let back into the rooms, so it's best to have what we need."
Hailing from Blayney in the Central West, Mr Rouxel was not afforded the provisions of other students who could return home to study remotely.
He works in an essential service that cannot be worked from home.
If the worse scenario did play out though, Mr Rouxel considered moving back to his family's property and making emergency arrangements with his workplace that could mean he would forfeit shifts and finances.
"I was keeping in touch with my mum at home. She was a bit worried about me, but she said I could always come home. She made sure I knew that was always an option," he said."
On Sunday night, he began to make provisions to deal with his sudden predicament.
"I started looking online, googling rooms for rent in Wagga and came across a flatmates website," he said.
"I couldn't be fussy otherwise I'd have nowhere to go."
Serendipitous fortune favoured Mr Rouxel and he managed to find a room in central Wagga that he could move into on short notice.
With many of the city's other services and stores preparing to close by Tuesday, Mr Rouxel was also panicked that he would not be able to acquire the room fittings he would need to set up at a new home indefinitely.
"I had to buy a bed, I've never had to own one before since the uni had one, but this room was unfurnished," said the student.
"I was being told that there weren't many around because a lot of mattresses have had to be quarantined, so I was worried I wouldn't get one.
"It needed to be affordable too because I'm not flush with money."
While the rapidly changing circumstances made for unfavourable moving conditions for Mr Rouxel and his fellow residential students, the student is not blaming the university.
"It was always made an option to stay if we needed to, there would be special consideration," he said.
"I think there's just been so much information that changing all the time. Every day the [government] advice became more extreme and the uni was very apologetic for making changes to our arrangements.
"It must have been a very stressful decision for the [university] management."
When contacted by The Daily Advertiser for comment following the perceived on-campus panic, a university spokesperson said the "misinformation" on when to leave the residential colleges had been "rectified" by further correspondence on Monday.
"Some misinformation on moving out was published by some students in Wagga and this has been clarified with additional communication to students from the university [on Monday]," the spokesperson said in a statement.
"The latest department of health advice in relation to group accommodation is that it presents a higher risk for transmission of COVID-19 and that accommodation closure be considered or densities should be reduced.
"In line with this advice, we recommended that students move out of their rooms and return home when the mid-session break commences, on Saturday 28 March.
"If a student has a reason to remain on campus, this can be arranged. No student will be put in a position where they have nowhere to live."